The fourth of five Colombian victims delegation group attending peace talks between rebel group FARC and the government demanded state protection on Sunday amid continued death threats.
In a joint statement read in Havana where talks are held, the victims said they expect “security guarantees” after ongoing threats from armed groups linked to disbanded paramilitaries.
In the statement, journalist Jineth Bedoya emphasized the need for protection against “stalking and intimidation” when the 60 victims representatives return to their communities after taking part in the peace negotiations.
Bedoya, who was kidnapped, tortured, and raped by state-aligned paramilitary forces in 2000 and kidnapped by FARC rebels in 2003, is still seeking justice in her criminal case after it has stalled in Colombian courts for over 10 years.
The United Nations Coordinator in Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild, claims that at least three victims have received hand-written death threats. While Hochschild said the UN is working with Colombian authorities, he expressed concerned that these crimes continue to go unpunished.
During the presentation made by the last group of victims in Havana, Hochchild said that “The threats continue and are generating fear in a country where human rights defenders are getting killed. These are not empty words because actions have taken place.”
On Sunday, the fourth delegation representing victims of Colombia’s 50 year armed conflict gave testimony at the Havana peace talks, which just completed its 30th cycle. Negotiations will resume on November 18.
So far, 48 of 60 victims have traveled to Cuba to talk to the FARC and government representatives.
The FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos have been engaged in formal peace talks since November 2012. The warring parties have so far reached agreement on rural reforms, political participation and drug trafficking.
The negotiators are now talking with and about victims to determine how to allow them justice and closure. If and when the delegations find agreement on this, the state and rebel military commanders will coordinate the final end to the conflict that has killed more than 220,000 Colombians.